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Charles Chieppo  |  Contributor

Email : cchieppo@verizon.net

Charles Chieppo is a policy expert, author and commentator on a variety of issues including public finance, transportation, and good government. From 2003 to 2005, Chieppo served as policy director in Massachusetts’ Executive Office for Administration and Finance where he led the Romney administration's successful effort to reform the commonwealth's public construction laws, helped develop and enact a new charter school funding formula, and worked on a variety of public employee labor issues such as pension reform and easing state restrictions against privatization. Previously, he directed the Shamie Center for Better Government at Pioneer Institute. While employed by Pioneer, Chieppo served on the MBTA's Blue Ribbon Committee on Forward Funding and has written and commented extensively on T and other transportation issues. He was a contributor to "MBTA Capital Spending Derailed by Expansion," by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation with Pioneer Institute, which won the Government Research Association's "Most Distinguished Research" award.

Chieppo appears regularly on WGBH television’s Greater Boston, WGBH’s Boston Public Radio and WBUR’s RadioBoston.  For several years, Chieppo's columns appeared regularly in The Boston Herald. Other media outlets publishing his work include The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Education Next, USA TODAY, Washington Times, Providence Journal, Nashville Tennessean, CommonWealth magazine, and Governing.

Chieppo is a graduate of Boston University's College of Communication and Vanderbilt University Law School. Charles Chieppo launched Chieppo Strategies LLC in 2006. 

Better, Faster, Cheaper

Risk Sharing's Key Role in Strengthening Public Pensions

As Wisconsin and Arizona are demonstrating, fiscally sustainable retirement systems aren't an impossible dream.

October 4, 2016
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Why Paratransit Doesn’t Have to Be So Expensive

Efficiently transporting people with limited mobility is a challenge. Some promising new approaches are being tried.

September 22, 2016
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Reckoning Time for a City’s Bad Fiscal Decisions

Providence has dug itself into a deep hole. Can it find the resolve to dig itself out?

September 19, 2016
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Kicking the Taxpayers to Boost a Soccer Stadium

Los Angeles wants to use antipoverty funds for development around a private arena. Is that any way to help the poor?

September 6, 2016
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The Tricky Issue of Private Prisons

The feds are moving away from them, but states and localities still rely on them. That puts the larger issue of privatization back in the spotlight.

August 25, 2016
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The Growing Urgency for Serious Public Pension Reforms

It's bad enough that they're underfunded. Paltry investment returns are likely to make things even worse.

August 18, 2016
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A County’s Self-Inflicted Compensation Crisis

Officials in Maryland's Montgomery County gave unionized workers — and themselves — big raises. Now they can't afford them.

August 2, 2016
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Higher Ed’s Degrees of Hunger

There's something wrong when many California public university students can't get enough to eat while campus presidents' compensation is soaring.

July 21, 2016
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What Dallas Needs to Do for Its Police

The department faces serious workforce issues that began long before last week's tragedy. They need to be addressed, and it will be painful.

July 13, 2016
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Is Columbus the Future of Urban Transportation?

It's likely that other cities will gain a lot from the experiences of the winner of the Smart City Challenge.

July 5, 2016
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Public Pensions’ Not-So-Rosy Outlook

The good news is that funding has stabilized. But a number of factors suggest that there's trouble ahead.

June 23, 2016
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Sick-Leave Payouts: the Taxpayers’ Headache

It's a difficult problem for many governments. Massachusetts is beginning to get a handle on it.

June 17, 2016
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States and the Ever-Deepening Fiscal Hole

Some are managing fairly well, but a lot of them aren't, and a few are in a place where the math is "very difficult."

June 6, 2016
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Public Higher Ed’s In-State/Out-of-State Dilemma

Fiscal and competitive pressures are leading state universities to admit a lot more out-of-state students. That doesn't sit well with a lot of people.

May 19, 2016
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What More Funding Can and Can’t Do

The fiscal problems that afflict Detroit's schools and Illinois' pensions show what happens when elected officials wait too long to act.

May 12, 2016
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The Budget-Cutting Tool Every State Should Have Handy

Six states don't give their governors line-item veto power. It's an imperfect tool, but it's the easiest way to start getting spending under control.

May 2, 2016
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The Unceasing War Over Teacher Tenure

Parents and voters are coming around to the idea that pay and job security ought to be related to performance in the classroom.

April 21, 2016
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When Government Oversteps the Advocacy Line

A Seattle area transit agency got into trouble when it tried to gauge voter's attitudes.

April 14, 2016
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Pension Reform That Gets the Job Done

What Arizona lawmakers have done gets at many of the most serious problems facing public pensions everywhere. Now it's up to the state's voters.

April 5, 2016
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Playing Fair With Public-Employee Unions

Asking government workers to contribute more is reasonable. Setting out to punish them isn't.

March 23, 2016
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Higher Education’s Golden Retirement

A public university president's parting payout of nearly $270,000 is raising a lot of questions in Massachusetts.

March 17, 2016
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‘Pay for Success’: An Idea With Bipartisan Appeal

Two new initiatives show the increasing sophistication of an approach that pays social-services providers only for programs that work.

March 1, 2016
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Arizona’s Deepening Public-Pension Quagmire

Reform efforts and an ongoing court case show what happens when the bills come in for overly generous retirement programs.

February 19, 2016
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How Shopping Around Can Hold Down Health Costs

State policies that require more price transparency could give consumers a powerful tool.

February 12, 2016
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State Spending and the Search for Hidden Efficiencies

It shouldn't take a budget crisis like the one Kansas is dealing with to force a government to look for more ways to save taxpayer money.

February 2, 2016
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Cities’ Pension Liabilities Are About to Look a Lot Worse

A new GASB rule affecting cities that are part of state cost-sharing retirement plans will be painful, but it's a step forward.

January 22, 2016
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Public Unions and the Vexing ‘Fair Share’ Issue

There's something to be said for making all workers chip in for the benefits unions provide. But that doesn't get at the issue of unions that wield too much power.

January 14, 2016
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Why Performance Pay Is Just the Beginning

Plenty more could be done to transform public workforces into meritocracies.

January 5, 2016
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Public Pensions’ Latest Challenge: Longer Lives

Increases in retirees' longevity are likely to make an already dismal fiscal picture look worse.

December 18, 2015
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Fixing the Disconnect Between Teacher Compensation and Performance

By spiking in later years, pension benefits don't align with experience. We need to be fairer to educators who are learning their craft.

December 11, 2015
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What’s a Fair Fare?

As transit agencies move toward income-based discounts, they still need to keep larger issues in mind.

December 1, 2015
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Infrastructure and the Need for Regional Clout

Some new approaches are emerging that could help booming and struggling areas alike.

November 19, 2015
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A Simple (But Hard) Way for Governments to Stay Out of Pension Trouble

Unrealistic assumptions about investment returns make it all too easy to fall into a hole like the one Chicago is in.

November 6, 2015
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A Reel Bad Deal on Tax Giveaways

Recipients of Massachusetts' film credits are selling them off to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. That's a box-office bomb for taxpayers.

November 3, 2015
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A Bullet Train Into a Fiscal Swamp?

The more you look at the California high-speed rail project's finances, the shakier they seem.

October 23, 2015
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What a Little Dose of Privatization Could Do

When an agency fails as spectacularly as the Boston region's transit system has, it's time for some competition.

October 16, 2015
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How to Save Billions on Public Construction

The ways we calculate pay scales for labor on government projects dramatically inflate the costs.

October 7, 2015
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The Implacable Resistance to Charter Schools

They're a big success in Massachusetts. So why doesn't the state have more of them?

September 28, 2015
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A Transit System’s Self-Inflicted Wounds

The D.C. region's Metro system is facing one serious problem after another. What's needed is a new focus on serving its customers.

September 17, 2015
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The Pay-for-Performance Approach to Reducing Recidivism

The early success of a Pennsylvania program for parolees shows the potential for one form of privatization.

September 10, 2015
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Detroit's Cruise to Nowhere

The region's port authority tapped the taxpayers for $22 million to build a dock for cruise ships. It's not working out so well.

September 1, 2015
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Teaching Teachers: Big Costs, Little Payoff

We're wasting billions on professional development, as a new study documents. What can be done about a culture of low expectations?

August 13, 2015
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Can Massachusetts Get Its Tax Giveaways Under Control?

Legislation to give the state's auditor better oversight would be a boon for taxpayers.

August 4, 2015
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Go to Jail, Go to School

By running its own charter school for inmates, the San Francisco sheriff's office is making a big dent in recidivism.

July 23, 2015
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Giving Public Employees Their Due — Without Overdoing It

Whether a state's economy is recovering or imploding, fairness and excellence are still the issues.

July 16, 2015
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Can California Find a Way Out of Its Pension Calamity?

The latest reform effort wouldn't solve the problem, but it at least would help keep it from getting worse.

July 8, 2015
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Another Beanball for the Taxpayers

Has Rhode Island learned anything from the last economic-development shellacking it took?

June 18, 2015
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When Privatization Isn't an Option

A dose of outsourcing could go a long way toward fixing some of the Boston-area transit system's problems. But a state law makes that practically impossible.

June 10, 2015
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How Our Legislatures Are Designed for Inefficiency

Nebraska had a good idea: Do away with the costly duplication of bicameralism.

June 2, 2015
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Can Schools Be Fixed When the Bosses Are Unionized?

Philadelphia's principals are sacrificing a lot, but they should be thinking like the professionals they are.

May 22, 2015
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Rolling the Dice to Save Chicago’s Pensions

It’s hard to imagine a worse idea than counting on casino revenue to prop up an underfunded system.

May 14, 2015
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Is It Worth Spending $111,000 to Create One Job?

Massachusetts doesn't have much to show for a billion-dollar program to boost life sciences employment. It's just not something that government is good at.

May 5, 2015
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The Temptation to Make Somebody Else Pay for Roads

By moving to shift highway costs away from those who benefit the most, Texas is taking a troubling detour.

April 24, 2015
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Where There's Smoke, There’s Data

New Orleans is using data analytics to get smoke alarms into the buildings that need them the most.

April 16, 2015
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A Public Transit System That Works

Compared to most American systems, London's is a model of efficiency and fiscal prudence.

April 7, 2015
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Government in Your Pocket

Denver is pioneering an innovative website that promises to save taxpayers money while improving the services they get.

April 3, 2015
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A Chance to Get Sports Teams Out of Taxpayers’ Wallets

President Obama has a good idea: End the use of tax-exempt bonds to finance stadiums.

March 20, 2015
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Want a Tax Credit With That Popcorn?

Massachusetts' film incentives cost taxpayers a lot and don't deliver much in jobs or local spending. The new governor wants to do away with them.

March 13, 2015
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How to Create a Public Pension Disaster

By putting off dealing with its retirement-system underfunding problems, New Jersey has dug itself into a 'draconian' fiscal hole.

March 3, 2015
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Boston’s Public-Transit Snow Job

The region's transit system is crippled by more than terrible weather. It's suffering from decades of irresponsible financial decisions.

February 20, 2015
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Another Blow for Public-Employee Unions

An order by Illinois' new governor threatens the delicate balance between the interests of workers and taxpayers.

February 13, 2015
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Harnessing Data to Fight Crime

Police in a Maryland county combined analytics with aggressive goals to put a serious dent in armed robberies.

February 3, 2015
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The Wrong Way to Keep Cops and Firefighters on the Job

As Dallas has learned with a gold-plated pension enhancement, it would be smarter to just pay better salaries.

January 23, 2015
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Why We Need Teacher Evaluations That Pass the Smell Test

Getting rid of poor performers is good not only for students but also for taxpayers.

January 8, 2015
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Is This Camden’s Chance for a Comeback?

The latest effort to resuscitate the New Jersey city isn't relying on tax giveaways alone.

January 6, 2015
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A Streetcar Named Confusion

The blurred governance of Portland's streetcar system makes it hard to judge its success or failure.

December 18, 2014
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The Growing Focus on the Dismal State of Teacher Preparation

A new report highlights just how bad things are, but some proposed federal rules are a step in the right direction.

December 11, 2014
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The Real Culprits in Illinois’ Pension Disaster

The price the state's voters will end up paying for decades of electing irresponsible policymakers is likely to be very high.

December 2, 2014
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The Biggest Olympics Loser: the Public

The boosters behind Boston's competition to host the 2024 summer games are promising a transparent process, but there's little sign of it yet.

November 21, 2014
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Can Chicago Ever Dig Itself Out of Its Pension Hole?

At some point, the city is going to have to face reality. The alternative is becoming the next Detroit.

November 14, 2014
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Getting Real about Pension Investments

There's a better way to forecast investment returns for public retirement systems, but adopting it would put some pensions even further into the hole.

November 4, 2014
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When Public Employees Won’t Budge on Their Benefits

Philadelphia and its teachers are at war over health-insurance costs. Tens of millions of dollars the schools want are at stake.

October 24, 2014
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Data Analytics and the Soup That Made You Sick

How can 32 Chicago inspectors monitor 15,000 restaurants? Figuring out which ones aren't likely to pass inspection is a good start.

October 17, 2014
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Protecting Taxpayers When a Privatization Partner Goes Bust

Thanks to the way the deal to operate the Indiana Toll Road was structured, the state treasury and the road's users don't have anything to worry about.

October 7, 2014
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Turning the RFP Upside Down

A Philadelphia program is showing promise for engaging entrepreneurs in solving urban problems.

September 26, 2014
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The Worst Way to Manage a Transportation Project

Think the cost overruns on the Big Dig were bad? The hole just keeps getting deeper for the Boston area's transit agency.

September 19, 2014
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A Better Way to Manage Government’s Underutilized Property

A startup emerging from academia wants to help cities get more value from publicly owned land.

September 11, 2014
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Public Employees’ Pension Dilemma

Today's municipal workers have to cut the best deals they can, but nobody's looking out for tomorrow's workers.

September 2, 2014
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Taking the Bypass on Transportation Funding

Increasingly unable to rely on Washington, states are coming up with new ways to pay for roads. But there are some principles they need to keep in mind.

August 14, 2014
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'Pay for Success': A Better Way to Deliver Social Services?

The idea of shifting the risk of failed initiatives from taxpayers to investors is catching on.

August 5, 2014
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Do We Really Need to Keep Building Convention Centers?

As a new book illustrates, the promised benefits rarely materialize.

July 30, 2014
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Public Transit’s Costly Compensation Bonanza

As the confrontation over a new contract for New York-area commuter-rail employees reminds us, it's hard to beat the pay and benefits that transit workers enjoy.

July 17, 2014
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Teacher Tenure and the Need for a Culture of Merit

Making it easier to get rid of bad teachers is worthwhile. But it's equally important to reward the good ones.

July 11, 2014
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How Technology Can Stretch Infrastructure Dollars

A bridge-monitoring system used in South Carolina and other states is helping to hold down the costs of maintenance.

July 9, 2014
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Paying the Price to Keep Government’s Best Workers

Trying to retain its most talented employees in a competitive job market, North Carolina gave thousands of them a pay raise.

June 20, 2014
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The Mixed Picture of What the States Owe

Their debt challenges may not be as bad overall as has been portrayed, but some of them are in serious trouble.

June 12, 2014
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Is California on the Freeway to Fiscal Sanity?

Gov. Jerry Brown is working hard to break the state's cycle of boom and bust. The voters seem to like his ideas.

June 4, 2014
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Technology’s Growing Role in Bringing Efficiency to Parking

Los Angeles and San Francisco are jumping into variable-rate parking in a big way.

May 23, 2014
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When Civil Service and Politics Collide

New Jersey is fighting over relatively small civil-service reforms. That shouldn't be surprising, given who's proposing them.

May 15, 2014
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Can the Voters Cure Phoenix's Public Pension Sickness?

A measure on the city's November ballot may not be a perfect way to fix its retirement system, but doing nothing is not an option.

May 6, 2014
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Illinois' Retreat on Teacher Quality

A decision by state lawmakers to let prospective teachers slide on a basic skills test is a bad idea.

April 24, 2014
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What Government Can Do to Attract Top IT Talent

Competing with the likes of Facebook and Google is tough, but it’s more crucial than ever.

April 18, 2014
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How Colorado's Transportation Department Is Institutionalizing Improvement

Not only is the agency becoming more efficient, but its culture is being changed.

April 11, 2014
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Maryland's Data-Driven Approach to Reducing Infant Mortality

The state has achieved remarkable results in a short time, particularly among African-Americans.

April 2, 2014
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New Orleans’ Winning Strategy in the War on Blight

A city with one of the nation’s worst blight problems is now considered a national leader in reducing vacant and dilapidated properties.

March 18, 2014
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Rhode Island's Winding Road to Serious Pension Reform

If all the parties approve it, a recent agreement will preserve most of the benefits of a sweeping reform law.

March 5, 2014
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How Denver's City Workers Prevented a Bureaucratic Mess

When the city's marijuana-licensing program faced a crisis, a team trained in efficiency showed how nimble public employees can be.

February 25, 2014
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How a Transit Workers' Pension Plan Jumped the Tracks

The Denver-area union blames privatization, but the causes for its retirement fund's troubles are familiar ones that run deeper.

February 4, 2014
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A Cost-Effective Way to Rebuild 500 Bridges

In leveraging public-private partnerships to replace many of its deficient bridges, Pennsylvania's new approach is realistic about the true costs of a transportation asset.

January 28, 2014
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What States Can Do to Protect Children

Three governors whose states have done a poor job of shielding kids from sometimes-fatal abuse and neglect are taking important steps.

January 16, 2014
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A Not-So-Public Pension's Disappearing Money

A $25 million investment loss by the Boston-area transportation authority's retirement fund demonstrates the need for the same transparency and oversight that other public pensions are subject to.

January 13, 2014
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Distressed Cities and the Lessons of California

A new study finds reasons for optimism for municipal finances. But California is the outlier.

January 7, 2014
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Getting Creative on Public Workers' Health-Care Costs

Miami-Dade County's mayor is pushing a compromise plan that may help get this budget-buster under control.

December 19, 2013
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How to Kill Competition for the Delivery of Government Services

Rather than trying to regulate what private-sector contractors pay their executives, governments should be looking for the best deal for the taxpayers.

December 12, 2013
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Cities and the Fiscal Challenge of Retiree Health Care

A few big cities are adequately funding health care for their current and future retirees. The rest face distasteful choices.

December 4, 2013
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A Better Path to Local-Government Regulatory Reform

For cities, protecting public health and safety doesn't have to come at the expense of jobs and economic development. A new online tool can help in building sensible regulatory frameworks.

November 26, 2013
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Public Transit's Labor Madness

Despite some positive steps, the industry's outdated pension and disability policies continue to be a sweet deal for workers and a costly one for taxpayers.

November 6, 2013
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Illinois' Pension Mess: the Politics of Denial

The state's pension debt amounts to $100 billion, but the issue underlying the current debate is tax cuts.

October 24, 2013
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Higher Education's Risky Search for the Silver Bullet

A Massachusetts college's traumatic leadership crisis has lessons for governance in the wider world of public universities.

October 21, 2013
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Public Pay and the Power of Special-Interest Politics

A big salary hike for Boston police might turn out to be the defining issue of the city's hotly contested mayoral campaign. Beyond that, it illustrates a deeper problem.

October 10, 2013
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The Thorny Business of Cutting Current Public Workers' Pensions

There are a number of things that states and municipal governments can do to help get their retirement costs under control without dialing back their current employees' benefits.

October 2, 2013
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How a Federal Law Trumps Cost-Effective Transit

By threatening to withhold mass transit funds, Washington is preventing California from realizing savings from its pension reforms. It isn't the first time special interest legislation has stood in the way of cheaper government.

September 19, 2013
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The Civil Service We Need

Merit-based hiring systems in government are more than a century old, and some of them make managing the public workforce absurdly difficult and complicated. They need to be updated for the modern era.

September 4, 2013
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Back to School: How Tech Helps Teach One-on-One

New York City is trying a new technology-driven teaching approach to improve and personalize math instruction. So far, the results are encouraging.

August 29, 2013
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A Performance Culture for Community College Funding

Massachusetts is about to tie much of its community-college funding to measures of how well the schools educate their students. The state's bold plan is part of a welcome trend.

August 15, 2013
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Are Wisconsin's Public Employee Laws a Panacea for the Nation?

Gov. Scott Walker says they are. But there are a lot of problems with one-size-fits-all policies.

August 7, 2013
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Coercing Public Employees to Live in Town

Residency requirements for municipal workers make it harder to recruit the best and the brightest, but a statewide ban like Wisconsin's may not be the best way to end them.

July 26, 2013
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A Win for Public-Pension Transparency

Information about the pensions for employees of greater Boston's transit agency has been hidden from the public. Now it's a matter of public record.

July 16, 2013
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The Puck Stops Here

Investing in sports teams and stadiums is usually a bad deal for cities. Glendale, Ariz.'s multimillion-dollar bet on its hockey team looks like one for the penalty box.

July 11, 2013
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How to Make Privatization Virtually Impossible

There's abundant evidence that greater Boston's transit agency could save a lot of money by contracting out bus maintenance. But thanks to a restrictive state law, that's not likely to happen.

July 10, 2013
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The Irresistible Urge to Chase Private Jobs with Public Money

It rarely works, but that doesn't stop public officials from trying. In two New England states, the lesson is being learned once again.

June 25, 2013
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Teacher Quality and the Lake Wobegon Factor

Teacher education programs have long set a low bar for students seeking to enter the profession. That is finally beginning to change.

June 13, 2013
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Phoenix's Route to Pension Armageddon

Some police and firefighters are getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in pension payouts, draining the city's finances and helping to shrink the public-safety workforce. Pension benefits need to be tied to contributions.

June 6, 2013
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How New Orleans is Rebuilding Its Ruined School System from the Ground Up

After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans started over. A far better school system has emerged from the floodwaters.

May 28, 2013
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Illinois' Public-Pension Dilemma

State lawmakers moving to fix the nation's worst-funded pension system have a choice: a plan that saves a lot of money or one that might survive a court challenge.

May 15, 2013
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A New Way to Tame the Public-Pension Beast?

Adjustable pension plans could help governments control both risk and their out-of-control retiree-benefit costs.

May 8, 2013
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Can Vocational Education Produce the Citizens We Need?

Students on the technical track need solid academics, not just job training. It's important to spend these public-education dollars wisely.

April 24, 2013
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Public Workers, Secret Pensions

Under an unusual arrangement dating back to 1948, information about the Boston-area transit agency's pension system doesn't have to be made public. That may soon change, and it ought to.

April 18, 2013
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Can Data-Driven Education Close the Achievement Gap?

A Silicon Valley nonprofit wants to take its ideas into thousands of classrooms. It's an experiment worth watching.

April 11, 2013
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The Right Way to Manage a Government Contract

The Illinois Lottery is showing that government officials can hold their own with their private-sector counterparts.

April 3, 2013
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How Bad Is Our Infrastructure, Really?

There's no doubt that we should be spending more on our roads and bridges and water systems. But what's more important is how we spend it.

March 21, 2013
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When Public-Private Partnerships Are a Bad Idea

They can bring big benefits, but only when combined with fiscal responsibility.

March 13, 2013
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The Game-Changing Potential of Universal Preschool

Done right, it can save a lot of money in the long run, and it can benefit not only poor students but their communities as well.

March 6, 2013
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Public Money

New Rules Could Clear the Path to Pension Reform

For most states, the new government accountability rules eliminate the main substantive barrier to moving toward less costly defined-contribution plans.

February 28, 2013
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Solving a Piece of the OPEB Puzzle

A Massachusetts city's approach to cutting the cost of retiree health care might be a way for other jurisdictions to grapple with the problem.

February 13, 2013
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Giving Public Workers the Tools for Efficiency

Instead of outside experts, Denver's mayor is relying on city employees to find savings and deliver better services. The results so far are promising.

February 6, 2013
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The Catch-22 of Restoring Lost ID

A Florida nonprofit is stepping in to help the poor and homeless obtain the identification they need to participate in society.

January 22, 2013
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Fixing the Transportation Infrastructure We Have

Before we invest in expansion, we should get serious about maintaining our existing systems.

January 9, 2013
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The Hard Choices on Public Pensions

Rhode Island's capital city is addressing the fiscally crippling problems with its retirement system. Can Illinois find the political will to do the same?

January 7, 2013
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The Political Peril of Right-Sizing the Schools

Closing underused school buildings is the right thing to do, but it's never going to be easy.

December 26, 2012
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Setting the Bar Higher for Teachers

With a couple of changes, a teachers' union's proposal for rigorous testing for prospective teachers could have a big impact on public education.

December 12, 2012
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A Cheap Way for Governments to Tap Top Talent

Fuse Corps is providing states, localities and community groups with entrepreneurial professionals to help them find the efficiencies that they need now more than ever.

December 5, 2012
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Can Innovative Urban Food Production Save Detroit?

Nothing else has worked. A local entrepreneur is asking the city to give his ideas a chance.

November 8, 2012
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A Simple (But Hard) Way to Improve Public Pensions

Retirement systems could go a long way toward addressing their problems by getting real about their investment returns.

November 7, 2012
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Rolling the Dice with Taxpayer Money

Governments aren't very good at picking business winners with grants, loan guarantees or tax breaks. They'd do better if they realized their limitations.

October 25, 2012
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The Teachers We Need (and the Ones We Don't)

Evaluating teachers based on students' test scores isn't a perfect way to identify the best and the worst. But test scores should be part of the process.

October 22, 2012
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Derailing Transit with Debt

New York City's transportation agency has gone a long way toward fixing its finances. Now its challenge is to resist the temptation that has crippled Boston's transit system.

October 10, 2012
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Contracting for Value, Not Just Cost

Government work usually goes to the lowest bidder. That's not always the smartest way to spend taxpayers' money.

October 3, 2012
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Fixing Municipal Finance, by the Book

A new guide provides tools to help beleaguered local officials keep their communities out of a fiscal nightmare.

September 20, 2012
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Truth, Transparency and Transportation

Washington state's transportation agency provided info to lawmakers and the public on what it's doing. It's paying off big-time.

September 13, 2012
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Crowdfunding: a New Way to Get Things Done in Government

It can give residents a way to show their support for projects they care about and save the taxpayers money.

September 6, 2012
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What Failing Schools Need: a Menu, Not a Prescription

Bottom-up reforms have a better chance of turning schools around than state-imposed, centrally managed approaches.

August 15, 2012
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Taming the OPEB Beast

The non-pension benefits that governments owe their retirees threaten to swamp their budgets. The time to fund those benefits is now, not when they come due.

August 8, 2012
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Schools and the Resistance to Competition

Charters are building a strong record in Massachusetts, and one city’s failing schools are about to benefit.

July 24, 2012
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Our Transportation Funding Disconnect

Gas taxes can no longer provide the revenue to keep up with our needs. We should look at alternative ways to pay for roads and transit systems.

July 9, 2012
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Stretching Dollars to Nurture Factories

The Seattle area is leading the nation in a manufacturing renaissance as its governments make strategic investments that build on the region's strengths.

July 3, 2012
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More Than One Way to Fix a Bridge

Colorado and Massachusetts are moving quickly to repair and rebuild their deteriorating bridges. But there are lessons in the different ways they're paying for the work.

June 14, 2012
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Institutionalizing Innovation in Colorado Springs

The city has established an office that is dedicated to finding real savings, and it’s is paying for itself in the process.

June 6, 2012
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Making Sense of Tax Incentives

Massachusetts is taking a hard look at the tax breaks it hands out for economic development. The result may be a move toward using objective metrics to inform decisions about granting them.

May 24, 2012
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Big Pension Reforms in a Little State

Rhode Island and its capital city of Providence face crushing pension-funding issues. They are stepping up big-time.

May 11, 2012
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Denver’s Better Way to Battle Homelessness

A comprehensive, multifaceted partnership balances support and compassion with an expectation of self-reliance. And it saves money.

May 2, 2012
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Rewarding Public Workers Who Produce

Despite a looming budget shortfall, Wisconsin's governor is fattening some state employees' paychecks. Here's why that's a good thing to do.

April 24, 2012
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Attracting Business Without Giving Away the Store

All of the states provide tax incentives for economic development, but most of them don’t do a good job of making sure that they’re getting value for the taxpayers' money.

April 17, 2012
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Letting Schools Run Themselves

Detroit is about to devolve the management of some of its high schools to the school-building level. It's an approach to school reform that has a good track record.

April 11, 2012
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Finding the Money for Infrastructure

A new report points the way to achieving efficiencies and cutting operating costs to bridge that funding gap.

April 4, 2012
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Sidetracking Competition in Commuter Rail

Transit agencies are looking for good deals for operating their commuter-rail systems. Amtrak and its allies have a different idea.

March 26, 2012
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The Gaming of Public Pensions

Nothing illustrates the unsustainability of traditional public-sector pensions better than the practice of “spiking.”

March 13, 2012
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Tulsa’s Pain—and Gain

The city demonstrated that a comprehensive approach to efficiency could resolve a fiscal crisis while improving service delivery.

March 7, 2012
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How to Train—and Keep—Good Teachers

One big-city public-school system has created its own school of education, and it’s paying off.

March 5, 2012
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One State’s K-12 Learning Curve

Connecticut made some bad choices for its schools in the '90s. It seems to be learning from its mistakes.

February 23, 2012
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Transit and the Power of ‘No’

We are expanding our transit systems faster than we can pay for them.

February 9, 2012
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New Pensions for New Times

Traditional defined-benefit state retirement plans no longer are sustainable. Arguments that alternatives are unfair don’t hold water.

February 8, 2012
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Can Fiscal Sanity Be Mandated?

California may be about to find out, if an initiative that’s breathtaking in scope gets onto the ballot.

February 2, 2012
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Putting Education Data to Work

Schools are collecting mountains of information on their students. They need to do a better job of using it to improve learning.

January 24, 2012
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How to Keep Criminals Out of Jail

Newark’s mayor is using a performance-based approach to keeping his city safer by cutting its prison recidivism.

January 19, 2012
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Fiscal Wisdom Among the Razorbacks

Arkansas’ unique approach to budgeting, a product of the Depression, is helping the state keep out of the red.

January 12, 2012
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Money Down the Sewer

Doubling water rates to fix crumbling underground infrastructure isn't popular with Chicagoans. But it's a lot more responsible than the approach that got Jefferson County into trouble.

January 4, 2012
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The Spending-Performance Equation

Doing performance-based budgeting right isn't easy. But it can pay big dividends, especially in a time of scarce resources.

December 20, 2011
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The Bullet-Train Misfire

Prospects for a high-speed national rail network are dimming. There are good reasons why.

December 13, 2011
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Accountability and the Poverty Fight

A New York City initiative aims to help the poor by supporting successful programs — and killing ineffective ones.

December 6, 2011
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Free Advice for Struggling Governments

An alliance of consultants is helping Chicago and Cook County save money and improve services. And you can’t beat the price.

December 1, 2011
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The Teachers We Need

To attract the best and brightest educators, we need to do something about the disconnect between performance and compensation.

November 21, 2011
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Paying for Performance at the Top

In a time of layoffs and pay freezes for public workers, it’s easy to criticize bonuses for executives who manage billions in public assets. But that doesn’t mean bonuses are a bad idea.

November 14, 2011
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Public and Private, Head to Head

Aiming to improve the efficiency of Chicago’s recycling pickups, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is turning to a competition marked by fairness.

November 8, 2011
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Sacramento Power Play

To finance energy-efficiency improvements for local businesses, California's capital is trying an innovative public-private approach

November 2, 2011
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The Worst Pension Gap

Think the states’ $1 trillion retirement-fund shortfall is bad? One federal pension system’s funding gap dwarfs that scary figure.

October 12, 2011
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Putting All that Data to Work

Governments collect a lot of information. But that’s just the first step.

October 6, 2011
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Let There Be (Efficient) Light

Boston’s approach to upgrading its electricity-hungry streetlights, taking maximum advantage of incentive programs and competition, is illuminating.

October 5, 2011
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The Right Track for Transportation

In financing big transportation projects, Los Angeles shows that it’s learned lessons from debacles of the past.

September 29, 2011
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School Reform that Money Can’t Buy

After spending billions, Kansas City's schools are as dysfunctional as ever. Urban education needs reforms that encompass accountability and performance.

September 27, 2011
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Where the Healthy Savings Are

Programs pushing public-sector workers to adopt healthier lifestyles are making a real difference to some governments’ bottom lines.

September 22, 2011
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In Education, Does More=Better?

Chicago officials want a longer school day. Would that just mean ‘more of the same mediocrity’?

September 16, 2011
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When New Asphalt Gets Old

Paying for a new road or bridge is one thing. The hard part is providing for maintaining infrastructure over its lifecycle.

September 13, 2011
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Talking Trash in Chicago

To save millions of dollars, Rahm Emanuel wants to change the way garbage is collected. Will the mayor’s idea survive the politics of patronage?

September 7, 2011
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An Incentive for Efficiency

States could reward local governments—and their taxpayers—for finding creative ways to provide services for less money.

August 25, 2011
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Building a City from Scratch

New municipalities are popping up around the country, rooted in dissatisfaction with traditional governments. The new cities are experimenting with new ways to deliver services efficiently.

August 11, 2011
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The Pay Squeeze at the Top

Highly paid public-sector executives are in the headlines. But governments may need to pay top dollar to get the excellence they need.

August 9, 2011
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The Messy Politics of Privatization

Outsourcing government services can save money. But governments need to bring their own expertise to bear to de-politicize the process.

August 3, 2011
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For Whom the Road Tolls

Highway gridlock is just getting worse. Technology offers one way to find money for transportation improvements that are desperately needed.

July 28, 2011
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The Pension-Reform Imperative

Overhauling public-sector retirement funds for sustainability is a political swamp. But failing to act now would be catastrophic.

July 19, 2011
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Needed: Better Benchmarks for Convention Investments

Realistic convention-center performance measures would help public officials see the market more clearly as they make decisions about expansion proposals.

July 14, 2011
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Performance Pay for Teachers Would Boost Economy

Economic success depends on a well-educated workforce. So it makes sense to think of improving education as a tool for boosting a region’s economy.

June 30, 2010
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